Eating, raising and domesticating livestock for survival has been taking place since the very beginning of human existence. Since history began, nomadic settlers began grazing sheep, goats and other native species in order to live off of their resources. Currently in the twenty first century, the idea of using animals for the benefit of living has been taken to another level; this is called factory farming. Factory farming began in the 1920s soon after vitamins A and D were discovered; when these vitamins are added to feed, animals no longer required exercise and sunlight for growth. This allowed large numbers of animals to be raised indoors year-round. Farmers found they could increase productivity and reduce the operating costs by using mechanization and assembly-line techniques (Katz 1). Since the 1920s, the evolution of factory farming hasn’t become any better, but in fact gotten worse and worse in many aspects. Inhumane treatment of the animals has increased to its highest peak and change must occur immediately. It is because of this that factory farming must be stopped due to its unnecessary natures and practices.
One reason as to why factory farming should be terminated is because it is morally and ethically unjust. The welfare of animals has been completely disregarded in this so-called “business”. Every year, hundreds of thousands of animals that are raised for food experience terrible living conditions because the majority of meat, dairy, and poultry production in the U.S. take place in industrialized or factory farms (Food & Water Watch 4). Cows and calves and chickens and pigs and numerous other animals have been forced to live in unsanitary and cruel conditions. For example, these animals are kept in small cages, sheds or on disease-infested feedlots where they often have little to no space to turn around or even lie down comfortably. Many are deprives of exercise so that all their bodies’ energy goes toward producing flesh, eggs, or milk for human consumption.
Also, they are susceptible to be given drugs, antibiotics, or growth hormones which increase their growth rate or production rate in which case causes an over capacity of body mass leading them to be so weighed down that they cannot move, or they die on the amount of substances their bodies have been abused with. If they survive this horrible process and have grown large enough for the consumer’s demands and expectations, they are then raised for food and are crowded onto trucks to be transported over many miles through all weather extremes, typically without food or water, to the slaughterhouse. Those who manage to survive this horrible nightmare of an obstacle; they are then brought to their unwilling deaths. Many tactics include: their throats get slit, often while they are still conscious, they are plunged into the scalding-hot water of the de-feathering or hair-removal tanks while still conscience or while their bodies are being skinned or hacked apart. Actions like these should not be tolerated anywhere, especially in the United States.
It is absolutely disgusting to know that the human race in this day and age is acting in such a primitive behavior. We are not cavemen – we have the knowledge and the resources to go about eating meat another way where it does not involve pain and suffering to our beloved animals. Another reason why factory farming should be eliminated is because it hurts and damages the environment. These factories are causing serious amounts of atmospherically and ecologically based pollution. For example, factory farms concentrate an unnatural number of animals in one place, which creates an unmanageable amount of waste. For example, a single hog excretes up to 17.5 pounds of manure and urine each day. If you put 1,000 hogs together, that’s six million pounds of waste each year. On a factory farm containing 35,000 hogs, over four million pounds of waste are produced each week and over 200 million pounds each year. Whereas on a sustainable farm animal waste can be a tool, in factory-farm amounts it becomes a major pollutant (Loehr 26).
Manure carries with it other substances that are used on industrial farms. These include antibiotics and artificial growth hormones, which contaminate waterways and affect the plants and animals that live in them (National Risk Management Research Library 2). Salt, a common component of manure from industrial dairies can damage soil quality and contributes to erosion (Schneider 2). Factory farms also emit harmful gases such as methane and hydrogen sulfide, which contributes to global warming. This air pollution is a result from the overuse of machinery, the mismanagement of manure, and the irresponsible feeding practices that characterize industrial farming. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides have turned agriculture into a leading source of water pollution in the United States as well. Runoff from factory farms kills fish, degrades aquatic habitats and threatens drinking water supplies.
Factory farms are such a high contributor to the damages of Earth and ultimately harm our planet in great heights. A recent United Nations report concluded that a global shift toward a vegan diet has become necessary to battle with the effects of climate change. In addition, researchers at the University of Chicago concluded that switching from a standard American diet to a vegan diet is more effective in the fight against climate change than switching from a standard American car to a hybrid. Finally, a German study conducted in 2008 concluded that a meat-eater’s diet is responsible for more than seven times as much greenhouse-gas emissions as a vegan’s diet is (Mawter 1). We as living beings do not have another Earth to live on and neither do all of the animals being affected by human interference with nature. The amount of intrusion the people in this world has managed to follow through with is sickening and has done nothing beneficial for anyone or anything but themselves. It is a selfish way to act without any consideration for the other living, breathing organisms that have made a home of this earth as well.
We started this snowball effect and it is now plummeting to a major and detrimental downfall for not only us, but for all living things and it is time that it is brought to a complete halt. Ending factory farming can seriously help benefit the survival of our home. Lastly, factory farming has a very negative effect of an individual’s health. These farms are willing to diminish the quality and nutritional value of their products to maximize profit. It is noted that chickens are reservoirs for many food borne pathogens including Campylobacter and Salmonella. It has been calculated that 20% of broiler chickens in the U.S. are contaminated with Salmonella and 80% are contaminated with Campylobacter in the processing plant. Campylobacter is the most common known cause of bacterial food borne illness in the U.S. (Fluoroquinolone 3). These percentages are outrageous and are caused by the unsanitary condition the animals are kept in as well as what they are fed and administered with. Also, fifty million pounds of antibiotics are produced in the U.S. each year. Twenty million pounds are given to animals, of which 80% (16 million pounds) is used on livestock merely to promote more rapid growth and production.
The remaining 20% is used to help control the multitude of diseases that occur under such tightly confined conditions, including anemia, influenza, intestinal diseases, mastitis, metritis, orthostasis, and pneumonia (Smith 2). All of these antibiotics are then filtered into your produce or protein. This then causes “super bacteria” that become resistant to many medicines and can harm humans and in the end, not have a solution due to the repeatedly mutated strain on bacteria. People are dying every year because of food related sicknesses based on factory farming production. At this day and age, not many people are informed of what they are eating or drinking – let alone where it is coming from. If this practice doesn’t cease, sickness and disease will do nothing but spread and accumulate more and more in our lives. The act of de-beaking chickens or cutting off cows’ tails, have been claimed to increase efficiency and safety of the corporations.
However, these strategies cause incredible discomfort, pain, and stress for the animals. Although strategies such as this may help to “mechanize” the animals and “increases yields” by causing less interference with production, this does not justify in any way the resulting suffering, misery, grief, sorrow and torment these poor animals are brought upon. Animals suffer unnecessary mutations and are held in very confined living conditions, which are inhumane and abusive. Scientists have even been able to link animal stress to the quality of the food. When an animal is subject to stress and pain, it is more prone to disease and can produce lower quality meat, milk, or eggs. When an animal produces less product, it is then given more drugs to quicken up the process, and when a high quantity of medicine has been administered into the bodies of these helpless animals, they fall to their death and are replaced with another life ready to live through the same experienced the others have with the same outcome.
The vicious cycle just persists and carries on. In conclusion, factory farming and their tactics must be destroyed. If it is not, disease will spread and contaminate more and more animal products, which can lead to health risks in humans. The environment will also pay a price because pollution is causing so much damage to the water and atmosphere and in the end, will again hurt the human population. Heart attacks, diabetes, cancers, and bacteria related sicknesses would continue to infect more individuals who consume factory-farmed products. There are indeed solutions to help decrease the popularity of factory farming. It is suggested to buy produce and protein locally from a sustainable farm, invest in humanly raised organic foods, go vegetarian or vegan, etc. It is very important to help the animals for they do not have a voice of their own and have no way in defending themselves. They need you to protect them, they need you to defend them, they need you to keep them safe from the turmoil they could potentially face so no more damage can be done to their lives as well as ours. Help them, and you will help us; for time is running out.
1.) Katz, E.. “Factory Farming.” Factoryfarming facts. In Defense of Animals, 2007. Web. 6 May 2012. <http://www.idausa.org/facts/factoryfarmfacts.html>. 2.) “Turning Farms into Factories; How the Concentration of Animal Agriculture Threatens Human Health, the Environment, and Rural Communities.” Food & Water Watch. July 2007. p. iv. Accessed online June 2, 2008. 3.) Loehr, Raymond. “Pollution Implications of Animal Wastes—A Forward-Oriented Review,” Water Pollution Control Research Series. Washington, D.C. Office of Research and Monitoring, Environmental Protection Agency, 1968, p. 26. 4.) Environmental Protection Agency, “Risk Assessment Evaluation for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.” National Risk Management Research Library, Cincinnati, Ohio, May, 2004. 5.) Schneider, Joanne, Gordon Anderson, Robert Holub, Garry Litton, Robert Nicklen, Gary Stewart, and Roger Turner, Dairies and Their Relationship to Water Quality Problems in the Chino Basin. California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Santa Ana Region, 1990. 6.) Jeni Mawter, . “Meat and the Environment.” Peta people for the ethical treatment of animals. PETA, 2012. Web. 6 May 2012. <http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/meat-and-environment.asp&xgt;. 7.) Risk Assessment of Fluoroquinolone Use in Poultry, Food & Drug Administration, February 2000 8.) American Medical News, “FDA Pledges to Fight Overuse of Antibiotics in Animals”, February 15, 1999 Smith, Lewis W. “Forum – Helping Industry Ensure Animal Well-Being.” Agricultural Research. USDA Agricultural Research Service. March 2005. Accessed online June 6, 2008.